Putting all 30 teams in the Phoenix area this season and playing in empty ballparks was among the ideas discussed Monday by Major League Baseball and the players’ association.
The sides held a telephone call to talk about paths forward for a season delayed by the new coronavirus pandemic, people familiar with the discussion told The Associated Press.
Ideas are still in the early stage, and the Arizona option would have many obstacles to overcome, the people said.
Half of the MLB clubs hold spring training in Arizona, the other half in Florida.
Arizona’s advantage is 10 spring training ballparks plus the Arizona Diamondbacks’ Chase Field all within about 50 miles. Florida’s spring training ballparks are spread by as much as 220 miles.
Baseball’s season had been set to start March 26 but spring training was halted on March 12. After the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended restricting events of more than 50 people for eight weeks, MLB said it would not open until mid-May at the earliest.
The players’ association would want to survey its members to determine whether they would support such a plan, one of the people said.
The Masters goes from that annual rite of spring to two weeks before Thanksgiving. The U.S. Open now is scheduled in September for the first time since amateur Francis Ouimet took down Britain’s best at Brookline in 1913 to put golf on the map in America.
And the oldest championship of them all won’t even be played.
Golf organizations tried to salvage a season unlike any other Monday with a series of changes, starting with the British Open being canceled for the first time since 1945. The PGA Championship, which last year moved to May, would go back to August. That would be followed by the PGA Tour’s postseason, the U.S. Open and Ryder Cup in consecutive weeks, and then the Masters on Nov. 12-15.
Still to be determined was when — or even if — golf could resume because of the COVID-19 pandemic that has shut down sports worldwide.
Golf’s major organizations, starting with the PGA Tour and its calendar filled with tournaments, have been trying to piece together a puzzle for the last three weeks. Each agreed to announce their plans together in a show of collaboration.
The new schedule:
— Aug. 6-9: PGA Championship.
— Aug. 13-16: End of PGA Tour regular season at Wyndham Championship.
— Aug. 20-23: Start of FedEx Cup playoffs at The Northern Trust.
— Aug. 27-30: BMW Championship, second playoff event.
— Sept. 4-7: Tour Championship for the FedEx Cup.
— Sept. 17-20: U.S. Open at Winged Foot.
— Sept. 25-27: Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits.
It was not immediately clear how the teams from Europe and the United States would be determined for the Ryder Cup, although European captain Padraig Harrington has said he would not be opposed to picking all 12 players.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver is bracing for several more weeks of uncertainty about the remainder of this halted season, revealing Monday night that he does not expect the league will be able to decide anything until at least May.
Silver spoke on the NBA’s Twitter account as part of the league’s new NBATogether initiative, in a conversation hosted by Turner Sports’ Ernie Johnson. Silver touched on many topics, including how the league is looking at numerous scenarios for a return, but in every case the uncertainty of the coronavirus pandemic makes it impossible right now to move too far forward.
The NBA was the first of the major U.S. pro leagues to shut down because of the COVID-19 threat, doing so after Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert became the first player in the league to test positive for the virus. The league’s regular season was to end April 15, and the playoffs were to begin April 18.
That isn’t going to happen, and that has been known for some time. The NBA wants this season to resume, but simply cannot say with any certainty if it will or will not happen.
Among the decisions that have yet to be made, Silver said: whether the regular season will resume in some form or if the NBA would go immediately into the playoffs — assuming the league can salvage this season at all.
Also on the drawing board: if games would be played in NBA arenas or practice facilities, how televising games would work and if the league would take everybody to one site to finish the season. Cities have expressed interest in that option and have reached out to the NBA to say as much, Silver said.
With the NHL playoffs, which were to begin Wednesday, on indefinite hold because of the coronavirus pandemic, anything and everything is on the table if Commissioner Gary Bettman’s objective to complete the season is to be realized.
What the format will be, when play might realistically resume and whether the NHL might require games at neutral sites — how’s North Dakota sound? — is anyone’s guess.
Over the weekend, the governors of New York and California both tamped down President Donald Trump’s hope of sports resuming in August. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said: “I would love to see sports back to help with cabin fever. … But this is not about hopes and dreams and aspirations and what you would like to see.”
The NHL, which postponed play March 12, has several times pushed back its self-quarantine guideline — it’s now April 15 — before players can even think about reporting to team facilities. The date is expected to be extended again.
Will the NHL will have time to squeeze in any of the remaining 189 regular-season games to determine seedings, or skip directly to the playoffs based on the current standings, be it based on total points or points percentages.
In the percentage scenario, the ninth-place New York Islanders would have the edge over the eighth-place Columbus Blue Jackets in the Eastern Conference. In the West, seventh-place Winnipeg would be the odd team out with Vancouver in.
Other possibilities include expanding the playoff format to take into account the uneven amount of games teams have played.
With the pandemic affecting regions of the continent at different times, the NHL is also considering having playoff games played at neutral sites. Sportsnet.ca reported over the weekend that North Dakota has been mentioned as a potential site.
A person familiar with discussions told the AP the Buffalo Sabres’ two-rink downtown practice facility, and connected to their home arena and full-service hotel, has also been mentioned among the numerous options raised.